The first workshop in a series of dog Scentwork classes took place on Sunday in Salford, aimed at teaching dogs how to target certain smells whilst bonding with their owners.
Naomi Hillman led the class at Swinton Dog Day Care Centre.
She has been teaching the Talking Dogs Scentwork classes for three years since February 2016.
The dog owners at the Salford class we’re taught how to find a specific scent.
Ms Hillman worked out what the dogs were motivated by: finding a toy or finding food.
She said: “We have taught each dog a particular command which means they’re going to search for their target scent.
“And then we’re building on that to encourage them to search for longer, search more difficult areas and improve the duration of the search.”
Scentwork is one of the many natural talents dogs posses.
Ms Hillman says that there is a perception that certain dogs are better suited to using their scent but that’s not the case.
She said: “We’ve had a lot of toy breed dogs – dogs you wouldn’t expect like chihuahuas, we’ve had more unusual dogs like pugs, shih tzus and shar peis which you maybe wouldn’t expect.
“But we’ve never had a dog that couldn’t do this. So no, there is a perception that only certain dogs can do this but any dog that has a nose – which is all of them – can do this.”
Because of its mental stimulation, Scentwork tires dogs out quickly.
A lot of dog owners who attend the classes have difficulty tiring their dogs out.
Naomi Hillman said: “It’s an enrichment activity so it’s mentally stimulating which is often more productive than just trying to make your dog tired with lots of exercise because that just makes them fitter…
“If you have a dog that’s not very enjoyable to walk so maybe they don’t like other dogs very much, they’re quite nervous, they’re quite reactive – this is a chance to do something together that will be successful and build a good bond together.”
Ms Hillman wanted to become a dog trainer because of her experience with her rescue dog.
She said: “I adopted a dog and had all these ideas of all these fun things we’d be doing together, going for all these long walks, going to beer gardens sitting out and my dog didn’t have the same view that I did.
“He’s quite anxious about the surroundings, he was really afraid of other dogs, he was quite barky when we were out and about.”
Through the Scentwork training, however, she could find something positive that she and her dog could do together.
Talking Dogs Scentwork is a national organisation with regular classes taking place across England and Scotland.